Pain & Pleasure

  • Maybe it began with the election.
  • Maybe it began before then.
  • Maybe it was my mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
  • Maybe it was having to go back to be with a family I have little contact with anymore.
  • Maybe it is the holidays.
  • Maybe it is the time change.
  • It could be all of the above or none of these.

I don’t know anymore. It just feels like I have spent months trapped in this tiny room of ennui. Nothing gives me pleasure. All I want to feel is pain – because if I feel pain, then at least I feel something.

I think this is common for our tribe. We hurt ourselves. We all have different ways in which we do it. Some starve, some cut, some drink and take drugs, some have sex with strangers. I feel very fortunate I was never in the last category. God knows who I would have woken up beside, what diseases I may have contracted.

I was fortunate that sex was never a driving factor for me. I did not want anyone to touch me in the early years after my husband’s death. Yes, I was horrendously alone, but the thought of a random man in my bed never appealed to me.

I drank and drank and drank. I shopped because I wanted to feel the rush it gave me. I cut initials into my arms, wondering if the scars would always be with me – like a brand of grief. I read books such as “Drinking: A Love Story” and “Madness” which comforted me in some ways. Yes, I was insane. I was out of control. But I wasn’t the only person in the world who had or was going through fighting the demons that followed me day and night. There were others. Some made it. Some were still struggling. I always wondered about the struggle. When does one finally throw in the towel?

My father never accepted our weaknesses. Our vulnerability. When I was leaving for my year abroad in college, he sat next to me in the airport wanting to know how I felt. I told him I was scared. His response was “you’re one of us, you can do it”. That has always been his response. He has never wanted to see the dents in his children’s armor. But give him a parishioner and he becomes god almighty. Caring, understanding, to the point where the sheep follow him wherever he goes.

I have a great deal of anger toward him, which I am trying to work out. He treats me as if I am still 12. Still a child. Still free of the disease that changed my life in my 20’s. He doesn’t want to discuss it. He doesn’t understand why I cannot control what I do. He wants me to be perfect, naturally, and with that perfection comes his love. If I am honest, I do not know if he has ever loved me.

And so I sit and stare out my office window. I smile when people walk into my office and act the way I would with my father – happy, caring, with no worries in the world. “How can I help you?” is what they have come to expect. But I am dead inside and there are very few people I truly give a damn about. The rest is a facade. I spent years on stage, performing for others, and it has become useful for my professional life.

When I go home, it is another story. I close the blinds. I wrap myself in a blanket on the couch. Some days I do destructive things. Some days I just imagine that I will, but never have the balls to completely follow through. I want a better life than this. I want freedom. But I am stuck in this prison.

Sometimes you have to experience what you thought you wanted, just to realize that’s not what you need…

© Sorrow & Kindness


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